We strive to protect and preserve one day at a time :)
We, the owner/managers of Zomba Forest Lodge, set up Zomba TREEZ (The Reforestation of the Environment and Ecosystem of Zomba) in 2014 and have been working with local communities and the Forestry Department to reforest over 18 hectares (~22,000 trees), along streams on the south western slopes of Zomba Plateau.
The project started off being about reforesting and protecting water catchment areas but we soon learned that it wasn't just about tree planting. Over half our budget goes into fire prevention work which includes creating fire breaks to protect areas from fires and allowing the natural regeneration of trees, sponsoring football and netball teams to help with firefighting and maintenance of the planted trees, paying patrols to provide early warnings of fires, providing tools to help with all the previously mentioned activities.
In 2018, we held our first Environmental Awareness concert, held at Nankhunda Primary School, for the local communities, with Malawian pop star Moses Mkwawa as the main act. We also held our first Run4Reforestation, a sporting event aimed at raising awareness about the issues of deforestation and environmental degradation, and funds for TREEZ.
In 2019, we added a 'Battle of the Bands" to the Environmental Awareness concert, with 8 schools competing for the best written song about the environment, judged by that year's headline star act Jay-Jay C amongst others artists and recorded and aired by Zodiak Radio, a national radio station.
We also held the second Run4Reforestation to which we added a sustainability fair showcasing environmentally minded organizations and the Blantyre Farmer's Market joined us in making the day such a special event.
For 2020 we had great plans: we paid out over MK1,500,000 to conservation groups for their protection and maintenance of over 6,000 trees. Our Environmental Awareness and Education programme was going smoothly and we were looking forward to starting to organize the Run4Reforestation 2020... And then Covid-19 hit and we had to stop everything.
With reduced funding we are still continuing with our conservation efforts, just on a smaller scale.
The Run4Reforestation went ahead, but as a virtual run, run individually, in a safe space. And so many your participated :) Well done all of you. Thanks to your efforts we raised more funds than we had ever raised before - which is just as well, considering how tough 2020 has been and 2021 looks to be for now.
Those funds were quickly allocated to helping with the fire season on and around the Plateau. Sadly the 2020 fire season was devastating and caused the destruction of hundreds of hectares of planted and indigenous areas. Thanks to increased number of patrols, the south western slopes of the Plateau were barely touched and our conservation efforts preserved.
The Zomba Tour Guides Association also received their annual stipend for the help they provide in protecting and preserving the Plateau and keeping trails clear as well as the maintenance of the seedling nursery.
A large chunk of those funds has been divided up between sports sponsorship (Happy Hammers, FC Berries, Nankhunda and Kasonga football teams, as well as their respective netball teams.
At the end of February, the tree counting for take place and the groups will be paid their dues for the number of trees they have each protected.
We have also set aside a budget for the firebreaks and the next fire season ... and that is pretty much what we can afford to do this year.
Essentially, we are battening down the hatches whilst ensuring that we protect what we have started.
We will not try to expand our activities until the Covid situation has improved.
But watch this space :)
Right now, we reckon we are protecting over 250 hectares of natural regrowth and maybe 500 of pine plantation :)
Watch this space, as we continue to try to find means to protect, preserve and educate :)